August 28, 2005

Hitchens on "The Daily Show" and in The Weekly Standard.

Did you see Christopher Hitchens on "The Daily Show" show this week? It was a rather strange little interview in which Jon Stewart did most of the talking, asking really long questions that ostensibly begged Hitchens to explain things about the war in Iraq but left Hitchens with little time to attempt to do it.

Hitchens did manage to say he was going to have an article in The Weekly Standard on the subject. Now, the article is available.

An excerpt:
I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time....

The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty....

I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"
Read the article.

I would love to have heard what Hitchens said about Jon Stewart after that interview. I wonder if it would have been something like this passage from the article:
There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side.
Too harsh for Stewart? Perhaps, but if he were interviewing any of Hitchens's gargoyles, I think he'd treat them far differently from the way he treated Hitchens.

UPDATE: Here's the video of the Hitchens interview, available at Crooks & Liars, which opines:
Jon was very focused tonight and made Hitchins lose his place a few times. (How did he ever do that?) When intelligence is met against blind ideology, intelligence usually wins. (I just made that up)
Gargoyles, indeed.


ALH ipinions said...

I saw the encounter and agree with your take on the episode. Indeed, I was dumfounded by one of our (high profile) sister bloggers who mislead her readers to a replay of it by inviting them to see Stewart "handing Hitchens his ass". Because, as he stumbled to remember his anti-war talking points, Stewart seemed to be wobbling on his polemical heels - doing his best impression of Tucker Carlson trying to be funny – throughout the entire interview.

EddieP said...

It's a pity the administration doesn't have more Hitchens types telling their story. OTH the MSM won't cover any administration officials unless they think there is a "gotcha" buried in there somewhere. Hitchens is a mystery to them in that he actually saw the light and they are still trying to find a gotcha with him. They'll eventually diss him as well since he continues to spit in their collective eyes.

The President is walled off from the people by NYTABCCBSNBCCNNLATWAPO. Thank goodness for FOX sometimes and the Washington Times at others.

Ann Althouse said...

Alh: Hitchens did lose his train of thought at one point and openly admitted it instead of covering it up. So I guess that gave the gargoyles plenty to laugh at. That's not supposed to happen on TV. Things are supposed to gloss along nicely.

Eddiep: Yes, it's a damned shame Bush can't promote his own good actions or have someone else who can do it. Very strange.

Todd Madison said...

Alas, on the Daily Show (as with on Maher's and Miller's programs), Hitchens is sometimes more interested in being ingratiating than aggressive (his usual, effective mode), so I don't think he was game for such a focused interviewer. I certainly hadn't seen Stewart so full throttle, myself.

Stewart's legitimate beef with our inarticulate and insensive president prompted a (pretty good) Hitchens line, "We go to war with the president we have, not the one we wish we had" (or something like that). which set the stage for a sweeping Hitchens case for war, but, as you say, Stewart barely let him get a word in.

Finally, while I'm here, I wish that people on TV would engage Hitchens on non-war matters sometimes. His Jefferson book is a good one, and his literary criticism ranges from entertaining to brilliant.

Meade said...

Todd Madison: Speaking of Hitchens, entertaining, and brilliant, his
book review last week looking at previous "marauding Muslim piracy" was all of that. Check it out while it's still free.

PatCA said...

Agreed, todd, I read anything the man writes!

The lefties are crowing that Stewart got Hitchens' goat. I don't see it.

As for the gargoyles, true dissent and doubt is one thing--I worry, too, about the bad planning and about the commitment the Bushies really have to this war--but I don't make a career of ridiculing and attacking him at any cost to the war itself. For most of us, both extremes are too...extreme, and I loathe people like Stewart who use dissent for cheap laughs.

Thersites said...

Oh, I get it now. "Civil Discourse" now includes the word "gargoyles." Thanks for the heads up!

Thersites said...

Yes, it's a damned shame Bush can't promote his own good actions or have someone else who can do it. Very strange.

Is this meant as clever irony?

Brando said...

Jon Stewart: [Bush] refuses to answer questions from adults as though we were adults and falls back upon platitudes and phrases and talking points that does a disservice to the goals that he himself shares with the very people needs to convince.

Ann Althouse: it's a damned shame Bush can't promote his own good actions or have someone else who can do it. Very strange

You have the largest and most organized right wing propanganda machine in the history of the U.S which includes nearly every branch of the goverment. Very impressive.

Hmm, ever think that maybe, just maybe, the problem is not the radical commie left wing media but with yer man Bush and a number of his policies? It just astounds me that you are unwilling to hold the president accountable for anything. Now you’re crying for mommie when Steward aggressively punctures your propaganda zit.

Ann Althouse said...

Brando: Why don't you recognize a criticism of Bush and his administration when you read it? Strange! Ridiculous! You think you know what you've read before you've read it. Pathetic!

Brando said...

no, ann, you're suggesting that, underneath it all, bush is just doing a handy-dandy job and just aint getting the right coverage. There are plenty of outlets out there dying to help the public masturbate over Bush's "good actions." Perhaps maybe those actions are not so good, or at least need to be rethunk. Your "criticism" passive deflects criticism from the man himself. "Oh poor bushie-boy, he's getting a bad rap by the crazy left wing media."

Or perhaps you would like to sharpen up your "criticism" up for all of us to understand?

Joseph Angier said...

Hitchens may say that he's debated almost all the spokespeople for the "anti-war" side, yet you wouldn't know it from his facile retreats into his tired straw-man argument ... that every critic of Bush's Iraqi venture was some version of Chomsky or Galloway, quick to blame the US for terrorism, and to insist that Hussein was never a threat. Then when Stewart called him on that canard (rudely interrupted him, if you will), Hitchens began stammering something like "Um, haven't you heard people say things like that?"

Um ...outside of the above-named blowhards, not really Mr. Hitchens. And if you continue to base your arguments on a conflation of criticism of the Iraqi war with blind pacifism and appeasement, you deserve to get called on it.

NB: Does this mean that Jon Stewart is now an official "gargoyle"?

Thersites said...

It is a pretty worthless article.

Thersites said...

Let's give one example of Hitchens being disingenuous, not to mention wrong. He says that one result of the war was:

"(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea."

AQ Khan's activities were known before the war:

"During the 1990s, there were intermittent clues from intelligence that AQ Khan was discussing the sale of nuclear technology to countries of concern. By early 2000, intelligence revealed that these were not isolated incidents. It became clear that Khan was at the centre of an international proliferation network. By April 2000, the UK Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) was noting that there was an evolving, and as yet incomplete, picture of the supply of uranium enrichment equipment to at least one customer in the Middle East, thought to be Libya, and evidence linking this activity to Khan."

Ron said...

I no longer pay attention to Stewart because his entire approach is disingenious; he knows the how much of an effect he has on his audience, but if he's actually called on what he believes, he still retreats into his "I'm just a comedian" defense. Why we can't we just "He's lying" when he does that?

Brando said...

pray tell, ron, since your lie-detector is so good, what do you make of the President who in response to questions about the Plame outing, all the sudden retreats behind the "won't comment because of an ongoing investigation" defense? Why can't we just say "He's lying" when he does that? Or perhaps being a teensy-weensy bit disingenuous?

Funny, the polls suggest that the public is not paying much attention to the President anymore.

Ron said...

So let's see come on this thread and insult Ann and now myself, (Do you have any idea how I feel about the actions of Bush one way or another? But this doesn't stop your Trollishness, does it?) and you expect dialogue of any kind? Think again. You show respect, you get respect.

Finn Kristiansen said...

The question is not one of war or no war, or who has the clever little way of getting someone's goat in a comedy show debate. (And generally it is almost impossible to win an argument on someone else's show. It's the nature of the medium, whether one is talking to a bellicose O'Reilly or a smooth snarker like Stewart. The host and the producers are masters of time and naturally use it to the host's advantage.)

The only really relevant issue is how to execute this war to achieve the desired results, as it is a war that was signed off on by Dems and Republicans, including the candidate who would have been the likely alternative to Bush. No future candidate is going to just leave the task undone and yank troops home.

So it's a good time that those most critical offer up some practical alternatives. Aren't Iraqis struggling to create/write a draft constitution? Isn't there a debate on federalism going on over there? How would those on the left handle some of these tough issues?

Or would the ensuing massive civil war involving Iran backed Shia, western backed Kurds, and hard fighting Sunnis be the preferred ideal? Cause that is the outcome of bringing troops home, and Saddam was the outcome of doing nothing.

We watched as Israel pulled out of Gaza and what's in the news today? Oh shock of shocks, a suicide bomber. It would be tempting for us to pull out of Iraq completely, and see if it's all candyland and sunshine.

XWL said...

May I suggest NOT having comments on subjects like this.

The commentary becomes very predictable (I know you are, but what am I?).

With that out of the way, let's not forget that Mr. Hitchens is a Trotskyite socialist, who villified Kissinger, Reagan and Mother Theresa amongst others. I say this not to discredit him, but rather to show that WWIV (the cold war was WWIII, and this current WW might last as long) has thrown the old ideologies and allegiances into a blender.

His best defense (to paraphrase) is that to explain the terror connection between the Iraqs and Al Qaedas of the world takes five minutes of exposition but all it takes is the infantile certainty of Bush Lied, People Died! to retort.

What President Bush has done isn't to recreate Vietnam 1964 but rather he has created Europe in 1935 had they had the collective wisdom and gumption to face the totalitarian menace that they had nursed in their bosom.

Had the allies faced Hitler before the invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia it might have been similar to the current OIF. The Nazi's would have dispersed back into the German population, an occupation would have ensued and a mythology of an undefeated and unjustly persecuted Nazi party could have arised leading to an insurgency not unlike the current one (and anyone wanting to start the Saddam wasn't Hitler argument, I suggest look at his record, it wasn't a matter of will, just resources, he was every bit as evil as Hitler, or Saddam's idol Stalin).

But instead of 40 million dying across the continent tens of thousands would have died in Germany during a protracted guerrilla conflict.

Just as we can now never know how things might have gone during the current conflict if President Bush had done all the things his critics believe he should have done, we will never know what kind of Europe would have emerged had they had the courage to face Germany early on, but I prefer the mistakes of early action to the mistakes of reacting too late, and 50 years from now, I believe history will be on my side, and all this other nonsense is just static.

And to answer thersites, the AQ Khan case, along with Libya's unilateral dismantling and unmasking of their WMD program would seem to be one of the better (and often overlooked) positive results of President Bush's active assault on islamo-fascist and states willing to do business with them. (the fact that the Clinton administration had the intelligence and sat on their hands is another story all together, and that reminds me of one of Stewarts most disingenuous responses to Hitchens, to paraphrase, sure Clinton called for the removal of Hussein, but everyone knew he wasn't crazy enough to do anything about it!).

(and to everyone on the other side of this issue, yes I am an evil right wing neo con ideologue who sits in his basement and plays with his Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz dolls while playing 'world domination').

Thersites said...

the AQ Khan case, along with Libya's unilateral dismantling and unmasking of their WMD program would seem to be one of the better (and often overlooked) positive results of President Bush's active assault on islamo-fascist and states willing to do business with them.

Yeah, I didn't really expect anyone to have the integrity to concede that Hitchens was being disingenuous. Frankly, there's a distortion every three sentences in that article.

Sloanasaurus said...

The what we know now stuff about AQ Khan is only relevant in hindsight. Khan would still be running around but for being fingered by Libya (after the Iraq war started). Hitchens is right.

Leroy: I agree with your analysis. Hitchens has been pretty consistent as to why he supports the war. He simply believes that Saddam is evil and that it would be catastophic not to do something about it. I don't necessarily agree with Hitchens on this point. I think we need more reason than just someone being a bad guy. Bush takes it a step further with the Sharansky theory of spreading democracy as the only viable option to reduce Nuclear Proliferation in the future; i.e. Bush uses a more direct self- defense argument. (I am not sure it Hitchens accepts this argument).

Hitchens also recognizes that the anti-war left of today as coming from the same cloth as the appeasers of the 1930s. For example: in the 1930s the appeasers argued that confronting Hitler's aggression in the Rhineland or Austria/Czech would give Hitler the pretense to be more aggressive and cause greater conflict. Today they argue that attacking Afghanistan and Iraq has created more terrorists implying that not attacking would have been "better" because there would not have been as many terrorists created.

Its essentially the same argument. It is classic appeasement. Weakness.

Brando said...

I am sorry you feel insulted. But your comment struck me as disingenuous. When you or anybody else listens to Stewart's Daily Show you know (or should know) what you're going to get: biased comedic commentary. Stewart is not hiding this fact, unlike other shows that claim to be "fair and balanced."

When Stewart says "i am only a comedian" he is in fact not lying, but being ironic, because he is pointing out to the audience what he takes his other role to be, which is that of a political commentator. If you don't find him funny or don't agree with his political point of view, fine, tune him out. But unless you have some specific examples in mind, then i don't see how you can say he is lying.

I would be very happy to hear what your views of Bush are. In my opinion, he is a prevaricating sack of shit. And I find it quite outrageous, for example, when people such as LeRoy W suggest how it is not important now whether or not Bush lied. I mean, aside from the pesky fact that it on principle subverts our democracy, the failure of Bush to be honest and up front with the American people from the beginning is exactly what is hindering us from achieving Grand Neo-Con ends (read: credibility problem at home and abroad). Anyway, I would be happy to discuss this view with you or anyone else in more depth if you like.

Sloanasaurus said...

Stewart is an anti-war liberal with a comedy show. He shouldn't be expected to actually engage with someone of Hitchen's ability and should not be expected to provide reasonable arguments to counter Hitchen's arguments.

The whole interview, Stewart just repeats the same tired criticisms and ignores any response from Hitchens.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...for example, when people such as LeRoy W suggest how it is not important now whether or not Bush lied. I mean, aside from the pesky fact that it on principle subverts our democracy..."

Brando: it is obviously important to you. A "lie" is in the eye of a beholder and in the end really only depends on your own partisanship. For example, Bush said he believed there was WMD in Iraq. So far none have been found. The argument is that Bush must have lied, because he must have certainly knew there was no WMD, and you can't believe anything Bush actually says without independent confirmation.

Bush supporters have tried to independently confirm that Bush believed there was WMD by pointing out that many other intelligent agencies and governments also stated Saddam had WMD, including countries with much closer ties to Saddam such as France and Russia. The point being if Bush lied, why would all his "competitors" lie to help out Bush? Such a conspiracy would be incredible, which is why there is no conspiracy.

If you cannot be convinced with evidence like this, then you will never be what difference does it make at that point. Saying Bush lied is only another reason to oppose Bush. it is no different than any other partisan locution.

Certainly you could still be right as some lies don't come out until later. For example:

It is clear that FDR misled Congress and the American people about his agressive behavior towards Germany in 1940 and 1941. FDR said he would keep us out of war while at the same time taking actions that were overtly hostile to Germany.

I think FDR was right and his actions may have many lives. So who cares if he lied.

Thersites said...

The what we know now stuff about AQ Khan is only relevant in hindsight. Khan would still be running around but for being fingered by Libya (after the Iraq war started). Hitchens is right.

Uh, no, he's factually wrong. Also, Khan ain't exactly in prison.

I kind of admire how you don't let your lack of knowledge or reading ability get in the way of your pontificating. That shows real pluck!

XWL said...

Since no one felt like taking me to task for my counterfactual analogy comparing the GWOT to destroying naziism in 1935 instead of 1945 I'll assume I've scored a salient point.

With regards to my "Bush Lied, People Died" comment, I am clearly refering to the simplicity and reductiveness of the argument, it leaves out the FACT that everyone else (even France, Russia, et al) thought as US/UK did that Saddam had something to hide and that the end of the UN inspection regime would lead to a surreptitious build up of WMD (like say in North Korea).

Did the hawks in the administration push forward the intelligence that fit their personal views, why yes they did, does that make the mistakes that have been discovered subsequently lies, I don't think so, but I'm the one being a simpleton (not the Bush Lied crowd, they are the ne plus ultra of sophistication)

This brings me to my other bugaboo about the anti-crowd (Bush, War, Free-Markets, you name it they are against it), I find it to be a rare occaison where they don't feel the need to get in the 'Last Word'.

This last word need not be cogent, any kind of 'gotcha' will do, a long post or statement making a series of points, doesn't matter if you can make a pithy joke of one mistatement or disjunction in the flow of thoughts (like Hitchens with Stewart).

I'm confident that this point won't be the 'Last Word' on the subject, I've baited the hook, and the fish are swimming and hungry (but of course if they want to make me a hypocrite they'll have to refrain from manifesting their nature, and force me to have the last word).

Brando said...

Well, Sloan, your raise some important issues. But lets put it this way. Let's say many years down the road it turns out that the actions Bush has undertaken today lead to the Holy Grail of democracy and security in the Middle East. I truly hope it happens, and maybe it will.

That does not mean, however, that if Bush or his administration in anyway misled us into this war, he should not be subject to the full consequences thereof including impeachment. Our Democracy cannot be sustained otherwise. That's why we have laws, checks and balances etc.

Bush is no more above the law than Clinton. (Remember what happened to Clinton?) If 9/11 changed that, then the terrorists have already won. Obviously, we give Presidents a certain amount of wiggle room for them to do what they think is best, but within limits. Bush has not demonstrated at least in my mind that he cannot be trusted with that charge, and he seems to have dangerously gotten out of touch where his limits ought to be. Plus, the republicans won't hold him to account and the democrats don't have the power to.

Brando said...

In the last sentence i should have said "unfortunately" instead of "plus"

Ron said...

Brando, I felt insulted because I thought you were trying to hijack a thread about Hitchens and Stewart to go on about Bush and Plame, and you were doing so in a manner I thought was insulting to Ann and myself. You don't like Bush? Fine, but why not save that for a thread where Ann discusses Bush? or Plame? If I choose to comment there, you can discuss with me as well, but right now my guard is up.

Why do I think Stewart is lying? Because I think he has gone way past ironic political commentary, and he is aware of this. Bernie Mac, Chappelle, and lot of others do anti-Bush ironic comedy, but they don't get to go on Crossfire and hammer Tucker Carlson. Why is this so? Because I believe a lot of Stewart's viewership views him as a news program, or at least confuses him with one. Yes, they may rationally say "he's a comedian," but he's blurring the line between comedian and reporter enough that people treat him more seriously than even Air America where the commentary is much more direct. I think the failure of network broadcast news is that it has done a poor job attracting younger viewers; I believe I saw that the average viewership of CBS News is 60. But Stewart, I feel, takes advantage of this younger audience by making political statements and then running and hiding when his opinions are called into question.

Not many of the liberal academics in the college town I live in watch the regular evening news, not even CNN. But quite a few watch Stewart pretty regularily. Do they regard him as "news?" I betting they don't, but it's not like they're just watching an episode of "Friends!"

I'll let him have his "I'm just a comedian" defense if he were to spend a few months (sweeps, say?) doing the same things he did to Hitchens to leading lights of the left. I'm betting he won't because his ratings would take the hit. You don't have to be on the right to feel Michael Moore is just as much a dick as Tucker Carlson, and Stewart should call him that.

Noumenon said...

With that out of the way, let's not forget that Mr. Hitchens is a Trotskyite socialist, who villified Kissinger, Reagan and Mother Theresa amongst others.

It was his Mother Theresa column that caused me to completely stop reading him long before the war. The only author on Slate whose articles I would not even check the description before passing over, he just threw rhetoric around without any sincerity behind it. I haven't read him since.

Hate Stewart's partisan interviews, wish he would do them as "just a comedian." Even though they were boring then, at least they weren't uncomfortable to watch.

knoxgirl said...

I like Jon Stewart but there's 2 reasons I can't stand The Daily Show:

1. ridiculously enthusiastic, distracting audience applause and

2. his opinions on every issue are predictable.

I feel like if I'm watching an entertainment show--as opposed to news or politics--I want to be surprised every now and then. Stewart is liberal on everything. Boring.

Incidentally, I used to like Bill Maher because I felt like his opinions would vary a bit. Now he's just far-left on everything. Again, boring.

Barry said...

Disclaimer: I'm a Stewart fan and I'm left-leaning.

Just watched the segment. I thought Hitchens did a great job discussing his points against such a pointed interviewer. I also think Stewart was considerably more articulate and aggressive than he has been in some recent interviews with right-wingers (Santorum and Lott, for example - both bland, non-confrontational interviews).

Hitchens, who I've never seen before, is an articulate person, and I look forward to reading more of his views. And while Stewart continually tried to frame the argument as "Iraq was not necessary for a successful War on Terror", I think Hitchens was successful at bringing the argyument back to "Iraq was necessary regardless of the War on Terror".

Stewart's point about Bush not being the appealing spokesperson Stewart would like him to be (which I read as "Bush isn't Bill Clinton") rings true. I think Hitchens agrees, as he states in the article Ann links:

"There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness."

And at the same time, Stewart's implying that this is THE reason he's unhappy with Bush is disingenuous. There are a lot of obvious reasons to be unhappy with Bush, as Stewart himself points out on a Daily basis. :)

Sloanasaurus said...

"....That does not mean, however, that if Bush or his administration in anyway misled us into this war, he should not be subject to the full consequences thereof including impeachment. Our Democracy cannot be sustained otherwise. That's why we have laws, checks and balances etc...."

I don't hear too many of the 75 Senators who voted for the Iraq war resolution saying that they were misled. Most of the "misled" arguments come from the Senators and anti-war folks who opposed the war in the first place.

The only people who can claim they were misled is the small portion of Bush's war majority who joined on solely because of the current WMD risk (these are nearly all conservatives). The rest of the supporters are somewhere with Hitchens/Sharansky. To them the currency of WMD risk was one reason among many more important reasons.

Brando said...

But you would agree, Sloan, that if it was true that Bush did mislead us, then that would be grounds for impeachment, Right?

Judging by the polls, alot of americans now believe that Bush in some way mislead us about the war. And I think the facts as they stand today more than warrent an investigation. I mean we spent how many millions investigating clinton to discover he got a couple a clandestine blowjobs in the oval office. Seems that the situation with Bush is at least as grave. Just my two cents.

Todd Madison said...

"It was his Mother Theresa column that caused me to completely stop reading him long before the war. The only author on Slate whose articles I would not even check the description before passing over, he just threw rhetoric around without any sincerity behind it."

If you think Hitchens was not sincere in his attacks on Mother Theresa (who he once called a "leathery hellbat" before moving on to rather persuasive evidence of her failings), then you do not know Hitchens.

Gerry said...

"When intelligence is met against blind ideology, intelligence usually wins."

The irony here is simply delicious.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...Judging by the polls, alot of americans now believe that Bush in some way mislead us about the war. And I think the facts as they stand today more than warrent an investigation..."

People need to remember that the Iraq war was not a decision made by President Bush on his own. It was in fact a collective decision. If you recall, Congress voted in overwhelming majorities for the use of force in Iraq (including votes from leading liberal democrats). Since the vote a few democrats have attempted to spin their vote into some other meaning. For example, during the campaign, Kerry tried to argue that his vote was not to actually use force but to give the US leverage at the UN. This argument is ridiculous, which is why you haven't heard it repeated by other democrats.

The Iraq war is not some secret murky government action like Iran-Contra nor is it a personal transgression like Monicagate. It is a major policy decision similar to other major policy decisions. Therefore, at this point, claiming that Bush "lied" or "misled" about the Iraq war is no different than arguing that FDR lied about Social Security or Kennedy misled us about Vietnam, or LBJ lied about Medicare.

I am sure there will be plenty of investigations about the war about whether things were done right or wrong and on whether the initial policy was erroneous. However there will not be any investigations to determine whether Bush lied.

Brando said...

Let me put it this way, sloan: we need an investigation into what role the whitehouse played in gathering pre-war intelligence, i.e. to what extent the Bush Administration was engaged in fixing facts around a policy. Yes, the democrats voted for the war and they need to take responsibility for that, but you assign too little responsibility to the Bush administration who went around dishing out the "mushroom cloud" to every news outlet and during the state of the union address.

This is Bush's war. He led us into it, and needs to be held accountable for it. There simply are too many fishy things about the pre-war intelligence not to ask these questions, and too many things have gone wrong with the execution of the war to go into the "let the history books decide" mode.

Sloan, i just don't see why you wouldn't want answers to these questions too. I know alot of conservatives/republicans are acknowledging that things just haven't added up. And if Bush has nothing to hide, then why not?

Sloanasaurus said...

Again, I supported the war because of the evils of Saddam, not because of current stockpiles of WMD. In my opinion these evils have been proven correct. Intelligence said there were many mass graves, and these mass graves have been found.

If Saddam had turned out to be a good guy and we had been lied to about how bad his regime was, I would demand Bush's impeachment.

People like you just use the WMD issue as a foil. You didn't support the war anyways. So you rationalize that the intelligence failure on the WMD supports your initial opposition. If tons of WMD would have been found, you would be citing other reasons to rationalize your opposition. It wouldn't make any difference.

You say there are too many things that have gone wrong with the execution... many people make this assertion. But what things have gone wrong? Certainly you can cite all kinds of tactical mistakes and setbacks, but if you examine the war and post war from a high level strategic point of view, the war appears to be going very well. We want to go from Point A to B to C to D and so on. We are doing this. We have not gone to Point C and than back to point B again. We have going from toppling the regime to an interim government to elections to Constitution drafting to improved economy from no Iraqi government police and military to 200,000 Iraqi police and military etc.. etc.. etc.. As such there must be more tactical successes than setbacks. Unfortunately we only hear about the setbacks from the media.

It's easy to be a critic because every decision has weaknesses. Read a book on D-Day or Iwo Jima or Anzio... these are chalked full of failures, mistakes, incompetence... the criticism is boundless. Yet they were also successes.